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In The Eighth Inning...

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... of the Cubs' snappy 5-0 shutout win over the Nationals last night, someone a few rows in front of me yelled down at Nats' LF Alfonso Soriano:

"Hey Soriano, thanks for screwing up this game!"

That fan could afford to be in a jovial mood, as could we all, after Sean Marshall limited the Nats to just Soriano's single (and four walks), and the bullpen shut them down easily after that.

I'm going to make this post fairly short as there will be an open game thread coming for this afternoon's affair soon, but I also wanted to tell you that I used the old Corey Patterson trick on Freddie Bynum last night, when Bynum was sent up to pinch-hit for Marshall:

"You suck, Freddie!" I yelled.

After he hit his first major league HR (and the Cubs' first pinch-hit HR this year), the natural follow-up was, "You still suck", but I also turned to Mike and said, "Unfortunately, that just bought him another month on this roster."

Like I said, we could all afford to be jovial. Sure, the Nationals ... well, I'm not going to use the word I used above, but they're a pretty bad team, and just as the Cubs in the last couple of weeks couldn't afford even one misstep, each thing the Nats did wrong came back to bite them. In the first, after Juan Pierre bunted hisw ay on, stole second and advanced on a groundout, the inning should have been over, but Nats 3B Ryan Zimmerman booted a ground ball, allowing a run to score.

In the next inning there were two more bunts, one a successful sacrifice by Jerry Hairston, followed by a squeeze (!) that Ronny Cedeno beat out for a hit.

Marshall also looked to bunt, but after a couple of fruitless tries, he smacked a single, and one batter later, after Matt Murton clogged the bases with a walk, Todd Walker iced the game with a two-run single of his own.

Like I said -- we can afford to be jovial today!

I stayed at home for a while last night, later than usual, watching the weather radar show some angry-looking red blobs, and one of them opened up over my house (and most of the rest of the city) with some pretty large hail. When I finally arrived at the ballpark at 6:45, rain having departed, a man and his son were on our bench, with a spot open.

I sat down next to them and the man asked if I usually sat there. I told him yes, and when he asked me if I had friends coming (it was just Mike & Howard), I also told him yes -- at which time he and his son offered to move across the aisle. I gave him a BCB card and told him I'd write something nice about him -- so, thank you, sir, you are a gentleman, and glad that you and your son saw a well-played win!

There was also a rainbow that appeared over the CF wall about this time, right after the rain ended. I'm not much into omens like that, and I'm not saying that one means anything more than a pretty sight in the sky.

The Cubs played good ball last night. I like this lineup, particularly the idea of Matt Murton hitting second -- he was 0-for-3 with a walk, but that spot seems better suited for his abilities, plus it allows Ronny Cedeno to hit eighth, a better spot for him, I believe. Marshall threw a terrific game, running out of gas in the sixth inning, where we were hoping he could finish up after allowing a couple of baserunners, and running the count full on Marlon Anderson. He obliged by striking out Anderson on a sweet-looking curve.

Incidentally, the two "Marlon"s (Byrd and Anderson) are the only players with that name, spelled that way, in major league history.

Other notes: Aramis Ramirez left the game with what's being described as either "back spasms" or a "back strain" -- this is something he's had before. He's listed as "day-to-day" (aren't we all?). I'd suspect he won't play today, and if it's still bothering him on Friday, perhaps he could be used as a DH at the Cell this weekend.

Just as the ballclub does, you'll have only a short time to kick around this thread until I post a game thread for this afternoon, in a couple of hours. This series represents the first series win for the Cubs since they took two of three from the equally woeful Marlins last month. The back-to-back shutouts are the first for the Cubs since June 26 (White Sox) and June 28 (Brewers) last year.

As I noted yesterday -- a baby winning streak, two games, doesn't turn the season around. Yet.